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I Grew Up On A Clarinet

For the most part, I loved my childhood. I loved growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters. I always had a playmate and there was never a dull moment. We had great family time and my mother was the most amazing cook. We all had to take lessons of all kinds from the time we were really young. I remember being forced into trying piano and clarinet from around the time I started elementary school. At first I was quite excited about the piano and quite hesitant about learning the clarinet.

My feelings changed rather quickly, however, when I began showing a natural talent for the clarinet. I had trouble mastering the ivories of the piano and my mouth and fingers just naturally worked together on the clarinet in a way that my mom said sounded just like magic. I think she might have said that simply because she wanted to inspire me to stick with the instrument for her own listening pleasure.

I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but eventually I came to enjoy playing the clarinet as much as my mother loved hearing me play. I guess I liked it because it was the one way I stood out from among my siblings. In a large family, I had to take any opportunity I could get to stand out and make a name for myself. Clarinet was my opportunity and I grabbed ahold of it with all I could.

I signed up for private lessons after school and I became a part of every local band and orchestra that would accept me. I guess my perfectionism was evident even from these early years. All of my hard work paid off when I was offered a scholarship to a well known music conservatory where I went for three years after high school. My parents could not be more proud of me, except I think they were a little concerned that I would not make a career out of clarinet and would be stuck poor and leaning on them.

My time in the conservatory led me to get a master's in music education and I have found my calling as a teacher of clarinet at a local university. It is my privilege to use my love for the clarinet and my talents to help other students achieve their dreams with the clarinet as well. So follow your dreams, whatever they are. For me, it was the clarinet. I'm so glad that I grew up playing it.

By: Rachael Cleipher -

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Rachael Cleipher is a professor of music with an emphasis on the clarinet. She loves inspiring others to follow their dreams with the clarinet or anything else. See for more details.